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About Being Tremendous

An Interview with Charlie "Tremendous" Jones by Scott Giambalvo

Don't be fooled by this composed looking picture, how the photographer ever got Charlie to sit still for two minutes totally amazes me.

I was not prepared for the energy this man shared with me. At the doors of his office, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, he greeted me with a hug as big as Texas.

A walk through his offices (and private library) told me what kind of man Charlie Jones is. A man that reads. Almost every room had cases and cases of books lining the walls. His private collection includes the only known complete set of Oswald Chambers hardcovers, over 270 volumes on Lincoln alone, 85 on Washington, and countless others on Lee, Jackson, Livingston, Huston, Patton, Chruchill and many many more. His collection is truly "tremendous".

I asked this accomplished speaker and writer (with over 5,000 seminars under his belt and over 1.5 million copies of Life Is Tremendous in print), where "Tremendous" came from, and he said, with a smile: "I'm a man of limited vocabulary, so after years of signing my letters 'tremendous' and calling my friends 'tremendous' and finding life 'tremendous', I guess it just stuck." A humble response.

Throughout our two hour interview, Charlie related to me his keys to being successful; to being motivated, not ACTING motivated, but being motivated; and to improving one's own life. The keys are these three: Read. Think. Share.

Examining those keys carefully will not reveal new information to you that you don't already know, and Charlie says that in almost every seminar. He relates: "I cannot teach you something you already know in your heart, I can only show you how to recognize it, and by recognizing that you have it you can begin to use it." Charlie's keys to being successful aren't new or new-fangled. They are straight forward, common sense thinking that anyone can accept, and learn to live by and grow by.

Earl Nightingale, another great speaker, once said that if you have a field and you do nothing with it, you will see a yield of wild growing weeds. But if you plant something in that field and nurture it, it will surely grow, and your yield will be a direct result of what you planted. Where most people go wrong, is that they know what should be done, but instead of planting seeds that will yeild positive results, most plant seeds that yeild negative results. No matter what you plant, positive or negative, you will get back exactly what you plant. The trick is to plant only positive seeds.

Charile agrees and adds: "You are the same today as you'll be in five years except for two things, the books you read and the people you meet." Read all you can. Think about what you read carefully, and carefully think about what you're reading. If you read nothing but comic books, you'll get nothing but expert comic book knowledge. Read history books. There is nothing you can't learn from history and biographies.

Reading builds your mind and expands your thinking. In a world where the average American reads one to two books a year, if you read just one book a month you'll be ahead of the pack ten fold. Remember though, that you have to think about what you read. Apply it to your life and realize how it could impact your own experiences. Learn from it. Finally, share it. Knowledge is nothing if it is not given away freely. If you give because you have, you'll develop a greater capacity to give. Share everything you learn and always be thankful. The first sign of greatness is thankfulness.


Charlie relates that it is useless to be competitive with anyone but yourself. If you compete only with yourself, you'll always lose, but you'll always be driven to try harder the next time. The perfect example is the burnt-out employee. Have you ever heard this statement: "It's time for me to look for a better job, I've had it with this one, it's boring"? Sure you have, you may even have said it. Tremendous says: "Don't look for a better job, do a better job at what you're doing now. If you do a better job, you'll have a better job without having to look for a better job, and the truly better jobs will automatically come looking for you."

If that sounds too rosey for you, think about it this way. It is the resourceful and content person that can take a lousy job and put some excitement into it. The work isn't the work you do, the work is putting excitement into miserable work, so the work will SEEM exciting, and make you some money, even if you don't like it.

Before you throw away years of experience in a field that you feel has just burnt you out, think about approaching it from a different perspective. Whatever you do, don't plan things out. Try flexible planning instead. If you plan flexibly, say a plan that assumes everything will go WRONG instead of going right, then youll be prepared if something DOES go wrong, and if something goes right, you can always work it into your plan, because it's flexible.

The earlier you commit your life to trying everything, no matter how poorly you may fail, the better off you will be. Remember, when you're young and you make a mistake you can bounce right back and have years to profit from what you've learned, turning them into tools for a lifetime. As you get older, making mistakes usually just makes you bitter and resentful. Charlie quotes General Patton in saying: "Learn early in life that success isn't reaching the top, success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."

Charlie also related to me that it is perfectly natural to want to quit. Even the truly successful want to quit every now and again. But there is a tremendous difference between wanting to quit and actually quitting. Sometime you want to quit, but just because you want to quit doesn't mean that you have to quit. A lot of people are afraid to want to quit because they are also afraid that they WILL quit. The secret is to accept that you want to quit, but realize and make up your mind that you will NEVER quit. Once you make up your mind to never quit until you've finished a task, then you can enjoy wanting to quit because you know in your heart that you never actually will quit. Think about successful marriages. Think about the ones where both partners have their differences, but both are also dedicated to the marriage, sometimes more so than to each other. Don't ever quit.

Finally Charlie said: "If you're for real, you'll do things because you have to do them, not because you want to do them." The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is very small. Successful people hate to do the same things unsuccessful people hate to do, but they do them; because they have to, not because they do or don't want to.

"Charlie lit warm fires in cold rooms."

"Charlie spoke 'life' into me"

"I bought his entire collection plus his old record player."

"I read his book, "Life is Tremendous", several times"

"I wish I had met him 20 years ago"

"I wish every kid could meet Charlie 'Tremendous' Jones"

"Paul, I have been looking forward to spending this day here with you for today...it's my 40th birthday!!"

"That First Hug" by Phil Hess

"The Charlie I Never Knew", by J. Shoop

"There is no way I can truly find the right words to express how Charlie impacted my life only to say he lives with me forever."

"What a wonderful man of God he is"

"Your father 'raised the bar' on how a person should live."

"Your father 'raised the bar' on how a person should live."

"it touched my heart to hear him on the record player"

I just wanted you to know that he touched many hearts that day 20 years ago in far away Australia - mine included!

I'm so tired of being happy..... by Tracey Jones

My long-lost brother, who our Father knew before the foundations of the world

New Release Marks Tremendous Day -- "Five Pillars" Book Debuts in Memory of Charlie

They don't call him "Tremendous" for nothing!!